At the family reunion yesterday I was telling my mom that I had recently bought myself an HCSB – and got a blank stare. She had never even heard of it. So I tried to explain it in terms she should understand. Mom is a believer and does quite a bit of Bible study. Last time I talked to her about that she was using the NIV Study Bible, so I was telling her how the HCSB is similar to the NASB in accuracy, but very easy to read like the NIV. Then I realized she wasn’t familiar with the NASB, either.
At that point our discussion was interrupted, and we moved on to other subjects. But it got me thinking later on how so many of us just don’t see much beyond our own denominations, or even our local churches. Instead of using the NASB as an example, since my mom is also a long-time Methodist, I should have used the NRSV. She would have understood that.
Everybody knows the old KJV, but beyond that things tend to fragment. As a United Methodist we know the old RSV, and the New RSV (NRSV). The few UMs who actually get into Bible study generally are familiar with the NIV, at least if we lean towards the evangelical side of things. (Otherwise it’s all NRSV.) Some are aware of the NLT and the Life Application Study Bible, but I have never run into a UM who uses it as their main Bible that I am aware of. Some remember the old, gray paperback Good News for Modern Man with the line drawings. Beyond that, talk about different translations and you’re likely to be met with blank stares.
So what are the other Bible publishers to do? Zondervan choked on the TNIV for a while, but now that their throat has cleared up some, it appears their customer base may be more accepting of that “controversial” Bible, though I’d be willing to bet that a lot of that base has actually left for less-controversial pastures, i.e., Crossway’s ESV and the HCSB “Baptist Bible”. I think that the big “Z” will survive this, and even thrive. Crossway seems to be making the right moves, too. The SBC and B&H Publishing have that “Baptist Bible” perception to overcome, but as I previously stated, the HCSB is an excellent translation; it’s still a very new translation, and people are not even aware of its existence yet in many quarters. From what I’ve read, even many Baptist churches are slow to make the change over to the HCSB, but I can’t see that continuing for long. The HCSB is just too good to go unnoticed.
The Southern Baptist Sunday School curriculum, as I understand, now uses the HCSB exclusively, or almost so, and people are bound to notice. That should be a big plus. But in the UMC I don’t expect it will ever make too big of a dent. The powers-that-be will continue to push the NRSV as the unofficial “official” Bible. But I am a layman, and I don’t have to answer to those “powers”. What I can do is use my HCSB, or TNIV, and do my best to see that people in the UMC are aware of them. It could make a difference.